Accessing aged care in Australia for the first time can be overwhelming for some. Here's a handy overview of what to do and what services are available
It can sometimes feel frustrating and a little daunting as you grow older and start to notice that it’s becoming harder to do some of your usual everyday activities on your own.
Aged care services in Australia are designed to alleviate some of these concerns by providing the help you need to make your life easier and more comfortable. It enables the opportunity for you to continue living independently in your own home and within your community.
This article is an introduction on Australian aged care and what you need to do to access in-home aged care services. We will discuss:
- What is aged care in Australia?
- What services are available?
- Am I eligible?
- How can I access in-home, government-funded aged care services?
What is aged care in Australia?
It is the provision of services that support older Australians with their everyday needs. They are designed to help maintain independence and provide the basic support older people require as they age.
These services can be accessed via different providers from across Australia and you can choose between not-for-profit organisations (such as integratedliving Australia), government organisations, or for-profit private companies.
What types of aged care services are available?
There are two main types of aged care services:
In-home aged care
This allows you to remain living at home and close to the community you know, while receiving the services you need to continue living independently.
Some of the services can include visits by allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, nurses or social workers. They can also include cleaners, and gardeners to help around the house, or meal deliveries to give you a break from preparing and cooking meals
Providers such as integratedliving Australia offer assistance with more personal services, such as personal care, grooming, or bathing, if required. Respite care services are available too for you and your carers, to support everyone through the aged care journey.
Residential aged care
If you feel you require more intensive, round-the-clock care needs, then residential aged care maybe a more suitable option. All your needs will be taken care of and you will also get the opportunity to meet other people who are on a similar aged care journey as you.
Aged care workers and nursing staff will be on call to attend to your needs and you will be in an environment with other like-minded people who are sharing the aged care journey.
Am I eligible?
To access in-home aged care services you will need to be assessed by My Aged Care – a federal government service. The assessment will either be over-the-phone or in-home.
The person who assesses you might be referred to as a RAS Assessor (Regional Assessment Service) or an ACAT Assessor (Aged Care Assessment Team). They will be reviewing your health and medical conditions to determine the level of support you need.
To assist you with the cost of aged care, the Australian Government is subsidising in-home care support services fees. Eligible seniors may access government-funded assistance in order for you to you get the appropriate care you require.
To be eligible for government-funded aged care services, you may need to fulfil the following criteria:
- Aged over 65 or over 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
- Require assistance to do things you used to be able to do on your own.
Avoid waiting until a health situation triggers the need for aged care services immediately as it can take several weeks or months to receive services. Contact My Aged Care to get onto the assessment register even if you don’t require any services at the moment. It’s all about preventative health care.
How to apply for government-funded in-home aged care services?
Get assessed by My Aged Care. You can choose to apply for an assessment online or you can ring 1800 200 422 to speak to their centre staff.
integratedliving can assist you with your application as well. Our friendly team will walk you through the process and talk to you about your needs and circumstances and provide useful advice to help get you get started.
If you are assessed to be eligible for government-funded services, you will be assigned a funding package. These are:
Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) - CHSP helps older Australians access entry-level support services to live independently and safely at home, including community-based services (such as meals, cleaning and transport), home care, Allied Health and respite services.
Home Care Package (HCP) - The program supports older people with complex care needs to live independently in their own homes. The support is provided through a Home Care Package – a coordinated mix of services that can include:
- help with household tasks
- equipment (such as walking frames)
- minor home modifications
- personal care
- clinical care such as nursing, allied health and physiotherapy services.
There are four levels of Home Care Packages – from level 1 for basic care needs, to level 4 for high-care needs. Funding is allocated according to these levels, and according to the outcomes of your MAC assessment.
Short-Term Restorative Care (STRC) - This program provides people with services for up to eight weeks. It is goal-oriented, and helps people delay or avoid long-term care by slowing or reversing functional decline. STRC services may include, but are not limited to:
- allied health (such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, podiatry etc.)
- nursing support
- short-term assistance with the activities of daily living
- provision of technologies to help with day-to-day activities
- minor home modifications
A person is able to access both STRC and CHSP, however, services must be different, yet complementary. So, for example, one allied health professional such as a podiatrist, may be accessed via CHSP or STRC, but not both. STRC programs cannot be provided once someone is under a Home Care Package. It may be possible to access two STRC eight-week programs within 12 months.
Once you know what type of funding you’ve been allocated, the next step is to arrange your services. You can choose from any provider you are comfortable with and who meets your needs. Here are some tips for selecting a provider:
- Contact a wide selection of providers to get a better comparison.
- Have a checklist.
- Ensure you know your rights a as consumer of Australian Government-funded care providers.
- Have a good understanding of the Aged Care Quality Standards. These standards represent how the aged care industry is regulated and they will help you understand your rights as an older person.
- Understand any out-of-pocket costs you need to pay for services.
Providers such as integratedliving operate on an open-disclosure policy and we will help you understand all the fees and any additional costs. If you are worried that you cannot afford your in-home care, contact us on 1300 782 896 to discuss how you can apply for financial hardship assistance.
Once you have chosen your provider, set up your services. If you are on a Home Care Package, you will typically receive a care plan that outlines the services you need, when will they be delivered, the frequency of delivery and the fees involved.
If you select integratedliving as your preferred in-home aged care service provider, we will work closely with you to develop your care plan and determine the services you want and need. We can also assist with managing your allocated funding package to ensure you maximise the benefits from the package.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to our friendly staff if you have any questions about accessing in-home aged care services.
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